PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Over the past week, six juveniles under the age of 18 were shot, some fatally, in Portsmouth, not including 10 other people shot or killed in the city during the month of September.
One teen was killed on Berkley Ave., a 16-year-old was killed on South Street and another was injured, another teen was injured on Dale Drive and an arrest has been made in relation to that crime and a 17-year-old was killed on Elm Ave. A sixth juvenile accidentally shot himself on Harvard Road and was hospitalized.
"Gun violence is an issue, we are aware of it," Portsmouth Police Department spokesperson Victoria Varnedoe said. "As [Portsmouth Chief of Police Renado Prince] has said in the past, we are working through policies and programs to curb violence."
After three teens were killed over the weekend, Portsmouth Police took action.
"We saturated the area heavily with patrols for a warrant sweep, and arrested six people, including three juveniles, and netted nine firearms," Varnedoe said.
It's all part of the department's new approach, called PIE — Prevention, Intervention and Enforcement. The approach uses a nearly $500,000 grant to curb crime in the city, with grassroots organizations sending violence interrupters and mentors into crime-ridden areas.
"Those are people known in the community," Varnedoe explained. "They have eyes on what's going on, who needs to be talked to out there, doing conflict resolution to try to quiet down anger and tension."
Varnedoe says police believe many guns land in the hands of people through straw purchasing.
"Someone might purchase a gun and sell that gun to someone else to harm others," she said.
As the department continues to work towards solutions, it will soon implement new technologies to crack down on criminals
"The first one is called 'P to P,' or police to police, that would allow us to share a record management system with some of our neighboring jurisdictions like Chesapeake and Norfolk, that share our borders," she said.
Police also say the department plans to purchase ShotSpotter, a new technology that senses gunfire and allows police to respond to an incident faster.